Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Who goes to Indianapolis before the Super Bowl and leaves before the big game? Apparently Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who Saturday  joins  Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller in Indianapolis as part of his effort to keep momentum going in the fight against human trafficking.  The attorneys general will visit a command center established specifically to combat prostitution and human trafficking throughout the weekend.

Why this venue for a message about human trafficking?

  • During the 2010 Super Bowl, child-advocacy group Klaas Kids Foundation and Miami-based Kristi House identified at least 16 out-of-town underage prostitutes.
  • In 2009, Florida’s Department of Children and Families said 24 children were sex-trafficking victims during Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl.
  • In 2011, more than 100 people were arrested for prostitution in Dallas during Super Bowl weekend.

McKenna, 2011-12 president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), requested Zoeller help lead efforts to curb the demand for youth trafficked in the commercial sex trade and spread awareness about its impact. This latest effort is part of McKenna’s presidential initiative, “Pillars of Hope,” which aims to bring national attention to human trafficking crimes, to support prosecution and to help victims to freedom.

McKenna will visit Indianapolis in his official capacity as the NAAG president. The trip will be financed by the National Association of Attorneys General.

Now you know that the nation’s attorney generals are concerned about human trafficking at the Super Bowl. But you don’t know who’s not concerned about it — until now.  Of course, it’s the "adult services" provider, Village Voice Media, LLC. The Voice owns Backpage.com, which profits by charging pimps and Johns for prostitution ads. In “The Super Bowl Prostitution Hoax,” Voice columnist Peter Kotz criticizes the AGs’ efforts to bring attention to human trafficking at the Super Bowl:

Not to be left out, the Indiana legislature rammed through an emergency bill to keep the state safe for the game. Sell a child under age 16 for sex in the Hoosier State, and you’re now looking at up to 50 years. The legislation passed unanimously in both houses. Not a single elected official questioned the need for the bill—or asked whether it might make more sense for the state to provide money for the treatment of actual victims of underage prostitution.

A cynic might say that the Village Voice is concerned about their Backpage.com customers in Indiana facing more time behind bars. Regarding support for victims of underage prostitution, we’re all for it. Some states, cities, counties and non-profit groups already do so. We’re not sure if the Village Voice gives generously to charities that support victims of prostitution—as they are suggest that others should—but we sure hope so.

-Dan Sytman-